Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Statistics and Armbars

I can't remember whether it was my daughter, Ronda, or my niece, Samantha, who first told me about the sherdog site. What they have in common is that they are both in their twenties and find stuff cool and interesting that too me is as exciting as watching your cat eat a bug. That is, a little gross but interesting the first time, which for me, was about 45 years ago.

So .... I was very pleasantly surprised when in searching I came across what is now my most favoritest forum thread on the internet, I refer, my friends to the Sherdog UFC Factoid (Useless Info Thread).

They documented what I had suspected for a while

which is that not too many people lose by arm bar in mixed martial arts.  It is clear from these data that the percentage of wins by submission are going down - it's the purple line (the top one for those of you who are color-blind or visually impaired [Hi, Tina!] ) - the one that hits a peak over 70% in the 1990s and is around 20% now.

There is also some data, albeit less, on the Sherdog site that suggests arm bars are declining as a percentage of submissions.

Why would that be so? Well, I think in both a rear naked choke (referred to in judo as hadaka time - Japanese for "naked choke") and arm bars, a person who is unfamiliar with the technique can lose even when the execution is pretty sloppy. If they have no idea what the hell you are planning to do with that arm or behind their back, they won't start defending until it is too late.

So ... early on, you see lots of people losing by submissions. Then, two things happened.  One, a fairly large number of people realized that if a person is jumping on your back, they are probably going for a choke and you should get them off of there and if they are grabbing your arm, they are probably going to arm bar you so you should get it back. Two, more people actually started doing submissions, which made them even harder to catch because once you do a technique yourself you are better at sensing when someone is setting you up.

Most people became harder to submit and a few people became a lot harder to submit.

Wouldn't more people doing submissions mean more people would be submitted? Not necessarily. What I suspect (and the data bear me out) is that the general population of fighters has gotten better at defending half-ass arm bars, so more people doing half-ass arm bars is not going to increase the number of submissions.

Every time I go to a mixed martial arts event I see a lot of fighters whose matwork just sucks. I know high school English teachers always say that there is never a time when there isn't a more appropriate way to write a description of something. They are wrong. The matwork of most fighters in the UFC just sucks.

Does this mean that judo players are all of a sudden going to go into the UFC and wipe up the mat with all the mixed martial artists? You can read my post on that here. Short answer: I don't fucking think so.

As Rick Hawn said, more nicely than me, there is a difference between doing judo and getting punched in the face.

What is the solution? Practice. Practice. Practice. Learn some arm bars that don't suck.

Totally shameless plug, you can start with our book.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Transgender Competitors in Mixed Martial Arts

Ever since one transgender (male to female) competitor has become publicly known a few weeks ago, there has been a lot of talk about how people who oppose transgender competitors are "hate-filled" or ignorant of science.

Many comments have stated that those opposed to transgender mixed martial arts competitors are just too bigoted to pay attention to the "huge body of scientific literature showing there is no difference between biological females and transgender females".

Stop right there.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts. Post-operative, post-pubertal transgender male to female adults is hardly a large population. Multiply that small percentage by the number who elect to participate in elite level sports - of any type - and you get a tinier fraction. Now, select from that tiny fraction the percentage who are in mixed martial arts and the total number of studies you come up with is - zero.

I went to PubMed - the publication database of the National Library of Medicine - and I did find a 2005 review of the literature Gender Identity and Sport: Is the playing field level?

As of 2005, it was stated,

In fact, there are no published, peer reviewed studies on the performance related sequelae of the commonly prescribed feminising hormone treatment regimens.

ONE document on a website mentioned ONE athlete who was tested and fell "well within the normal range for females". Before you get very far on this one person, let me point out the difference between peer-reviewed journals and web sites.  I can say anything I want on here.

I tested my guinea pigs and found that there was no significant difference between their intellect and Joe Rogan. Also, I have met Joe Rogan and my guinea pigs have significantly more hair. See photo of guinea pig attached as proof.

The thing is, half of that is bullshit. The part about meeting Joe Rogan and the guinea pigs having more hair is true. In fact, guinea pigs are only slightly more intelligent than a box of hair, which they somewhat resemble.

Peer-reviewed articles, on the other hand, are read by people who are experts in the field who analyze your methods, results and conclusions and turn down your paper for publication if it does not meet the criteria for adequate scientific research.

The article goes on to say

for athletes who undergo reassignment after puberty, there remains the possibility that residual testosterone induced attributes could influence performance capacity, and thus it could be logically argued that the decision to permit participation or not should be made on a sport by sport basis. 

This article also mentions, as many commenting on the mixed martial arts issue have, that the International Olympic Committee policy allows for transgender athletes to compete as female if they have had gender re-assignment surgery and two years hormonal treatment. However, it also notes that NO transgender athletes have been acknowledged as competing in the Olympics.

In fact, to complicate matters further, there was one transgender athlete from the U.S. who did try out for the 2012 Olympics. This athlete was a female to male transgender person but competed in the WOMEN'S division. She planned to complete gender re-assignment surgery after the Olympics. She did not make the team for the same reasons anyone else didn't make the team - her throwing distance did not place her in the top three.

A Canadian athlete who was a male to female transgender person competed in cycling but not at the Olympics, as she did not meet the qualifying times required. She commented on an article that this was not due  to ability but rather to coping with family issues (her father was dying of cancer).

So, here is what I was able to discover in searching the scientific literature:
  1. No evidence of any transgender athlete competing in the Olympics.
  2. No data on transgender athletes competing in any combat sports other than the one person who has been recently featured in the news.
  3. One literature review from the British Journal of Sports Medicine stating that the issue should be considered on a sport to sport basis.
What I did NOT find was the supposed vast body of literature "proving" that male to female transgender athletes are identical to athletes who were born female.

I'll have more to say on statistics and data relevant to this point on my statistics blog later, but for now, speaking of statistics, I have to get some work done for a client.

UPDATE: The tiny bit of data I COULD find related to transgender male to female and mixed martial arts specifically is here. No one to date has sent me links to any other relevant studies, although a lot of people have called me names, which , I should point out, is not the same thing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How a little Catholic school ended up with Ronda's head phones

When she was a teenager on the Olympic team, someone asked Ronda if she had a super-power, what would it be, and she replied:

Losing things! I could lose things you think it would not be possible to lose. I'd be like - Death ray? Death ray? I swear, Dr. Evil, I had it right here! And that is how I would save the world.

Those of us who know her realize that is true. At her first Olympic Trials she forgot to bring a blue judo gi. She was the top seed so she would ONLY need a blue judo gi unless she lost a match. Who flies across the country to the Olympic trials, then turns to their mother in the car on the way from the airport and asks

Did you bring my blue judo gi?

Justin Flores mentioned the other day how he had picked up stuff Ronda had forgotten in hotels all around the world (they were on several U.S. judo teams together). We'd drop by their house to visit and he would go into his room and come back with

Dude, here's the thing you forgot in Egypt. And here's this stuff you left in the training camp at Montreal and ....

So... back to the head phones. Ronda had these white monster head phones she wore into the octagon for her last fight. When we all went to meet her in her dressing room afterwards, as always, Ronda forgot and left something on the floor.

Just out of habit, her oldest sister grabbed the head phones left behind and stuffed them into her bag, meaning to give them back. Well, Ronda didn't make it to Disneyland with us and Maria missed coming by the day after when Ronda was over, so ....

Two days later she is back in Massachusetts, still jet-lagged and at her daughter's school auction planning meeting. Of course, spending the week in LA covering the fights for ESPN and then visiting with the family, she didn't have time to call around to get donations for the auction, so - she pulls the head phones out of her bag and says,

I have these headphones donated by Ronda Rousey. They were from the first women's UFC fight ever and they are the ones she wore into the octagon.

The auction committee was extremely impressed and exclaimed,

How did you ever get those?

Maria answered,

Well, Ronda is Eva's godmother and she is very supportive of  a lot of charity efforts.

All of which, as she pointed out to me later, is completely true, so she was not lying to nice ladies at a Catholic school and also sounds better than,

I've been picking up crap she left lying around for 26 years. I can't believe it is finally actually worth something!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Photo-Journalism Look at Don't Throw Up, Throw Down

Just like "crowd-sourcing" sounds so much better than "I asked some random people on the internet", photo-journalism has a much nicer ring to it than "these are some pictures people sent me from the clinic".

Here is a group shot of everyone who attended. I think it was a perfect size. With only 30 people, over two hours, everyone got to ask any questions they had. It wasn't too crowded. If Ronda does this again next year, I would highly suggest the same format. (Thanks to Jennifer Swift for the group photo.)

It was totally awesome of the folks from Blue Cotton to make customized t-shirts and ship these out next-day air as a donation to make the clinic even more special. And I don't even know them. How nice!

OF COURSE, the clinic had to include arm bars. 

I just wonder if when the kids went back to school with these shirts their friends believed them. Here you have photographic evidence.

Will put up another post with photos later. Don't want to add too many photos for those of you with slow download speeds.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Freestyle Judo - Questions and answers from Steve Scott

 I almost never do guest posts but this email I received from Steve Scott of Welcome Mat judo was too good not to share. Thanks very much to Steve (shown below teaching a class) for his permission to post it here.

Learn more about freestyle judo at

The AAU National Freestyle Judo Championships are March 30 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Q-Why do you have numerical scores instead of Waza-ari and Yuko?
A-Two major reasons. First, the general public has a much better understanding of who is winning a judo match if they look at the scoreboard and see that Red has 7 points and that White has 3 points. Freestyle judo retains the Ippon for the purposes of scoring and ends the match much like a knockout is scored in boxing or a fall is scored in wrestling, but the numerical scores provide a clear and simple way to follow who is winning or who is losing in a match. The second reason is that the numerical scores provide a more objective approach to scoring a judo match. One of the major weaknesses in the rules of judo through the years has been that the referee and judges have too much subjective and arbitrary control over the match. In freestyle judo, we provide clear-cut criteria for the scoring of all aspects of judo action that take place in the match. This not only includes scores for throws and for the time in hold-downs but also for what is best described as "effective aggression" in groundfighting where a point is awarded for breaking an opponent down onto his or her back from a stable to an unstable position (breakdowns) and a point for getting past the opponent's leg or legs (guard passes) and a point for turning or rolling the opponent over from the bottom (guard sweeps). By providing a clear and objective point structure for these skills, there is less chance of a match going to a flag decision where the referee and judges may or may not take into account what took place in the match.

Q-Why do I have to throw an opponent so hard to get an Ippon in freestyle judo?
A-When formulating the rules for freestyle judo, one of the major things we wanted to maintain was (and continues to be) the value of an Ippon. An Ippon is scored when the thrower throws his opponent with control and force, landing the opponent on the back or back/side. This is exactly what the criteria for an Ippon has been in Kodokan Judo since its inception and was the case up until about 2000 to 2004. Gradually, the Ippon was reduced to the soft or rolling Ippon that become so prevalent. For those younger judo coaches and athletes, this soft or rolling Ippon is about all that they know since they do not have as much experience as some of the rest of us. However, from what I have seen and from has been told to me by some IJF people, the IJF is again making an effort to get away from their soft and rolling Ippons in the new rules that are out. However, this is one of the few improvements in the new IJF rules and simply is an effort to get back to what we have been doing in AAU Judo and especially freeestyle judo for a long time.

Q-Why can't I wear my rank belt in any of the AAU Judo Nationals?
A-For the purposes of scoring, one athlete wears a white belt corresponding to the white side of the scoreboard and the other athlete wears a red belt to correspond to the red side of the scoreboard. Actually, any two colors may be used as long as they correspond to the colors on the scoreboard. In AAU Judo, we don't care what rank you are or what organization you belong to. There are numerous judo, jujitsu and martial arts organizations issuing belts and rank and AAU Judo does not endorse any group or organization for the purposes of belts or ranks.

Q-If this is freestyle judo, why can't we use wrestling or our BJJ skills?
A-Do not confuse the name "freestyle" to mean that anything goes or everything is legal. Freestyle judo is very much judo. You can use your wrestling, BJJ or any skill that is allowed within the rules of AAU Judo and freestyle judo. We developed the rules of freestyle judo to provide a fair, objective and safe set or criteria for the conduct of a judo match.

Q-Is freestyle judo a "style" of judo? Is it different from Kodokan Judo?
A-The answer is an emphatic no. Freestyle judo is, as said before, very much judo and as my good friend John Saylor said' "Judo the way it ought to be done." In other words, the rules of freestyle judo were written and have developed so that as many technical, tactical and functional skills of judo can be used in a judo match. However, we are finding that the people who are attracted to and engage in freestyle judo are the people who prefer functional, effective, hard-nosed and performance-based judo.
Q-Why don't you award Ippon for Osaekomi?

A-When developing the rules of freestyle judo, we wanted to get to the core of what Osaekomi really is. The concept of "osaekomi" is unique to Japanese grappling and especially to Kodokan Judo. This word translates to mean "applying an immobilization or hold" or to "pin or press the opponent to the ground or mat." Historically, in the early days of Kodokan Judo, an Osaekomi was used to control an opponent on the mat (belly up and not face down) so that a submission technique could be applied to finish off the opponent and secure the win. Sometime in the early part of the 20th century, the rules were developed so that a judoka holding his opponent in Osaekomi for 1 minute scored as Ippon as holding an opponent this long proved superiority. Eventually, in the 1930s, the time was reduced to 30 seconds and remind that way until the 21st century when the time was reduced to 25 seconds for Ippon. Now, in the 2013 rules, the IJF has decreed that an Ippon can be scored with a 20-second Osaekomi. By scoring a maximum of 4 points for an Osaekomi and requiring the athlete holding the pin to attempt to secure an armlock or a choke after gaining the 4 points makes for aggressive and skillful newaza.

Q-Why does the referee have the authority to call Ippon for an armlock or choke if the athlete does not tap out or give up?
A-Simply put; for the safety of the athlete. In the same way a boxing or MMA referee can stop a contest, the referee in a freestyle judo match can call Ippon and stop the match if the armlock or choke is apparent and there is imminent danger to the athlete. As one of our AAU Judo referees, Sandi Harrellson, said to a young man about 5 or 6 years ago when he complained that she called Ippon when his elbow was bent backward in a Juji Gatame; "If you're not smart enough to tap out, I'm going to call Ippon." While no one is implying that by refusing to tap out or submit from an armlock or strangle a person is stupid, the fact remains that the referee's main job on the mat is to ensure the safety of the athletes. In the heat of a contest, an athlete may not tap out or signal surrender from an armlock or a choke.  Not only that, none of us make big money by competing in judo and we all have to go to work Monday morning. I prefer to see to it that our judo athletes in AAU Judo (including freestyle judo) go to work Monday morning without an injured arm from an armlock or loss of brain cells from a strangle. From my personal point of view, I really don't care if someone breaks his arm or passes out. The onus is on him to submit and if he doesn't, tough for him. But, I can't let my personal point of view influence my responsibility as a judo mat official to provide for a safe and fair contest.

Q-Why is freestyle judo part of the AAU? Why don't you work within the major judo organizations?
A-No disrespect intended, but honestly, do you want the people who have gone along with the IJF and have pretty much screwed up the the rules of judo to be the people running freestyle judo? These are the groups that have screwed up judo (here in the United States as well as elsewhere) for a lot of years and it is not a good idea to let them screw up freestyle judo. The AAU is the largest amateur sports organization in the Untied States and has been around since 1885. When some of us appraoched the AAU in 1994 to include judo as one of its recognized national sports, judo was accepted and we have been offering a good develompental judo program through the AAU since that time. (For more history on the AAU and its relationship to judo over the years since 1953, we can do another Q and A session, but for now, let's stick to the recent history.) Now, with freestyle judo, we have the opportunity to make real progress in the further devleopment of judo and provide the judo community with an alternative to what is already out there with the existing judo organizations. The AAU has great insurance coverage for coaches and for athletes and provides a neutral structure for over 35 sports (including judo). Even if you don't want to get involved in the AAU and want to have freestyle judo in your dojo, you can get your own insurance and run your own tournaments.

Q-Why don't the referees and judges wear a suit and tie like they do in other judo organizations?
A-Judo is a competitive activity and the referees should look like referees and not insurance salesmen. Selling insurance is an honorable profession but a judo referee that moves all over the mat, bends over to get a better view of the action and is constantly moving should be dressed in a way that he or she can have freedom of movement and still look prefessional. AAU Judo referees, including the freestyle judo referees, are attired in the same way a wrestling, MMA, football or other sports official is often attired.

Q-Why is the emphasis on groundfighting in freestyle judo?

A-The answer is that there is no emphasis on either groundfighting or standing judo. What has happened in recent years is that the rules of judo as developed by the IJF has severely limited groundfighting. What we now see in IJF judo is a sport that places too great of emphasis on standing and extremely limited emphasis on groundfighting. It is not a balanced approach to judo. When developing the rules for freestyle judo, we purposely gave equal points and equal opportunity for athletes to score and win in both groundfighting and standing judo. As long as there is effective aggression in newaza, we allow it to continue (the same can be said for standing judo).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

How NOT to be an asshole in martial arts

People at clinic today definitely NOT being assholes.

Photo above is from Glendale News article

The clinic Ronda did today was great. All of the people who attended were great, she did a great job and it raised over $11,000 for the Didi Hirsch Clinic to assist people with eating disorders. The funds they raised today are going into their residential crisis program, which provides inpatient treatment.

Thinking about all of the terrific people today, I was reminded of other events I have attended that were not nearly as great. Maybe it was your fault. Let's hope not, but just in case, as a public service, here are a few guidelines on how NOT to be a martial arts asshole. Feel free to print out and post in your dojo or leave taped to the gi bag of, you know, "that guy".

  1. Don't try to teach a class where you are not the instructor. This may seem obvious, but I see it happen all of the time, where someone will interrupt the instructor to offer to show "How I do it". At the clinic today, there were plenty of people who had martial arts experience. I saw one person who I know is a very well-respected personal trainer, three people who I know own gyms with judo or mixed martial arts programs - you get the idea. No one assumed that Ronda had all of the knowledge in the room, but it was her clinic and advertised as such. The people who came, some from thousands of miles away, some from hundreds, came to see her. Similarly, even if they only drove five miles, the people in whatever class or clinic you are attending came to learn from the advertised instructor, not you.
  2. Don't try to "take on" the instructor. I've taught statistics for 28 years. If a student wants to be the teacher instead of me, we don't have a statistics face-off. Even if a student knew some fact about statistics I did not know, they still don't get to be the teacher. I'm not only the instructor because I know a lot of facts about statistics and how to apply them in different situations, but I also know how to teach. I know what problems students are likely to have, both with learning a concept for the first time and in the future. Watching people at the clinic do o soto gari today, I said about 50 times, "Lift up your leg when you throw", "Step in with your outside leg first" and "Sweep with the leg closest to your opponent" and several other remarks I had made many, many times before. Being an instructor doesn't mean being able to beat up everyone in the room. I always remember Steve Bell telling me, "You don't see Bela Karolyi up flipping around on the parallel bars with those little girls."
  3. Don't try to "win" at practice. Practice is for getting better. This is particularly true when learning a new technique. First of all, if someone tells you that I am going to step in when you kick, then turn this way, then sweep here, it's not that hard to stop them. If you pull your kick and then block your partner, that doesn't prove you're more skilled than them. It just proves you're an asshole. In a real competition, no one is going to tell you exactly what they are going to do when. 

Don't be an asshole! Instead, be like this guy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

If I had it to do over again, I'd compete less - but maybe I'm wrong

Someone commented today that she didn't want to go to a tournament. I told her she should stay home. This is a debate I have had several times with some of my former teammates. There were a few times when I did not want to go to a tournament but yielded to pressure from other people  - because "You're our best chance at a medal" or "You're on the U.S. team so you have to go".

All of those times, I lost. I might have placed third or fifth but those places don't really count to me. Before you go off shrieking in the night - that is for me personally. If I say I felt like a failure if I came in third place in an international tournament, you can tell me all of the same things people told me back then, coming in third is a major accomplishment, look at how much work it takes to get that far, lots of people would have loved to be in that position. That's them. If you placed seventh in the world championships and you are thrilled - well, that's nice for you - and I mean that without the least bit of sarcasm - but I would have cried for a week.

At the root of it, competition is a personal thing. For the vast majority of us, we will expend far more in time and money than we will ever get back in any tangible way. The only reason to do it is that we meet our own personal goals, whatever those might be. Mine was to win in any way possible within the rules. I don't count cheating as winning. If it was, you could just bring a gun and shoot everyone. You'd win every judo match that way.

My friend, Mary, who was a bronze medalist in the world championships, argued with me about this. She suggested that if I hadn't gone to those tournaments where I lost, perhaps I wouldn't have won. She believes that in losing I probably learned some mistakes I was making that made it possible for me to go on and win later on.

Maybe. I don't remember it happening like that, though. What I remember is I was not at my best - for whatever reason - over-training, stress, sunspots - who knows. At the elite level, the difference between number one and number five is usually a sliver. I was just a half-step too late. Everyone has those days and I think I knew it. I should have listened to myself.

One of my other teammates, Christine, who coincidentally, also won a bronze medal in the the world championships, also disagreed with me. She told me that she thought having lost made me twice as determined to win in the future, drove me harder, remembering how much I hated that feeling of losing. She might be right.

Two other people, both of whom also won a lot of international medals, told me I might have been lucky to have lost at those tournaments. Both of them had very long winning streaks and felt that at the very peak, at the world level, they played overly cautious because they were overly afraid of losing. They both suggested  that maybe having lost a few tournaments was actually good for me. After going a year or more unbeaten, I'd lost a match, saw I didn't die after all and gone on. They both said they thought they might have won a world or Olympic gold medal in the end if they HAD lost earlier on. I have no idea.

So, in sum, if I had to do it all over again, I would not have competed on those rare occasions when I did not want to do it - but maybe that would have been the wrong decision.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ronda Rousey - Don't Throw Up, Throw Down Clinic is SOLD OUT

**** SOLD OUT ***

If you have a ticket, I look forward to seeing you on Saturday. Your name will be on a list at the door. 

No, if your name is not on the list they will NOT let you in. The only exception is for parents bringing their minor child. Obviously, if you have come with your 12-year-old daughter, we are letting both you and her in the door. 

No, you CANNOT pay at the door because we sold 30 all spaces. That is the meaning of "sold out".

No, Ronda is not doing another clinic this year, as far as I know. She did one last year to raise money for the West Coast Judo Training Center and this year (the one below) to raise money for the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinic. The funds raised this year are going to provide support for women with eating disorders who are served in their residential crisis centers.

No, she cannot attend your event to raise money for your wonderful thing. She has a very full schedule and we scheduled this one months in advance.  All of her days are already scheduled.

No, she will not be doing another clinic in New York, Atlanta, London, Australia or wherever it is that you live.

No, you cannot come "to help". There are only 30 attendees and she has me and Manny Gamburyan to help.

Yes, I am a mean old woman. 


As promised, here are the details:

Ronda Rousey, UFC world champion, two-time Olympian, Olympic and world medalist in judo, six-time national judo champion and my darling daughter #3 is doing a clinic on March 9th. She has done exactly ONE clinic since winning the Strikeforce world title and right now she doesn't have plans to do any more other than this one.

What is it:
A two-hour clinic on matwork, judo and mixed martial arts. Limited to 30 people.

When is it:
March 9th , from 12- 2 pm.

Where is it:
Glendale Fight Club
601 S. Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204

Why is she doing it?
To raise money for the Don't Throw Up, Throw Down fund to fight eating disorders. 100% of all money goes to the Didi Hirsch Clinic

Ronda is matching the money raised by the clinic with $5,000 of her own.

How much is it?
$200 Make your check payable to Didi Hirsch.

How can I get a ticket ?
Pay attention here: You need to pay in ADVANCE as we are only selling 30 tickets and they are only available at three places.

You can register and pay during judo practice on Sunday, March 3rd  2-6 pm at Millennia MMA, 8423 Rochester Ave. Suite 102 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730. Or email Gary Butts at  Don't ask the staff at Millenia because they don't have tickets and cannot help you.

Glendale Fight Club, 601 S. Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91204 They are open Monday - Thursday 4-8 pm
         Friday 4-6 pm and Saturday 12-2 pm

What is the third place?
I'll tell you later.

Why is it so hard to get tickets?
So we can be sure we don't sell more than 30. 

Can I just come watch and not pay? Can I just pay a spectator fee?
No and no. The only exception is that if you brought your CHILD, say your fifteen-year-old daughter, you can certainly stay and watch.

Can I tape the clinic?
No. The gym asked that we not have videotaping and since they donated  the facility we will respect their wishes.

Anything else?
Copies of our book, Winning on the Ground, will be available. We donated these for the clinic, so, again, 100% of the proceeds go to Didi Hirsch.

Practice Escapes from Armbars

This seems like a no-brainer, right? Honestly, though, how often do you practice escapes from arm bars? Daily? Weekly?

How often do you practice escapes from pins? From chokes?

Watch this short video. There will be pop quiz at the end of it.

The most interesting thing I hope you notice here is that she is doing the arm bar on his left arm. At the beginning of the clip, I say,
"Now we're going to practice on the OTHER side!"

Just to show you that I practice what I preach, having written a post earlier about being sure you practice arm bars on both sides.

Also notice that while the player on top is practicing the arm bar, the player on the bottom is practicing arm bar escapes.

It just so happens that the day we did this drill we had a fairly mixed group - some big, strong guys, a couple of teenage girls and some kids under 12. How to make sure that everyone gets a productive work out? On that particular day, those big guys, like the one on the ground above, only practiced escapes. It was good for them because they got into a dangerous position and then got out.

The smaller, younger people practiced arm bars. They got most of the way into the position and then had to try to finish it.

Everyone had to work hard and everyone got better.


Learn more matwork from our book, Winning on the Ground, available as an ebook and in paper book.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaching transition from the very beginning

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

This also answers the question of how you get good at transition from standing to mat work. I say this all of the time and I am saying it again. Practice. From the very beginning. In all types of settings.

I have shown white belts on this blog practicing throws on the crash pad doing o goshi or o soto makikomi landing in a pin. Here is the little mini-me Navida practicing transition from standing to mat work.


Three take-aways from this:

  1. You're never too early to start practicing effective transition.
  2. You can practice transition with any partner, even one much bigger than you.
  3. You should practice transition from every throw.